This week, we celebrate America’s 243rd Independence Day, an annual observance that stems from the founding of our country. 

On July 2, 1776, the Continental Congress voted in favor of independence, and two days later, delegates from the 13 colonies adopted the Declaration of Independence. That document declares that all men are “created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights” such as “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.”

Section by section, it lays out the case for the break with Great Britain, reporting “that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its Foundation on such Principles, and organizing its Powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

It reads, “We, therefore, the Representatives of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the World for the Rectitude of our Intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly Publish and Declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be, FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, that they are absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political Connection between them and the State of Great-Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as FREE AND INDEPENDENT STATES, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which INDEPENDENT STATES may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm Reliance on the Protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our fortunes, and our sacred Honor.”

It’s been a while — 243 years is quite a long while to be separated from the mindset of those who came together to declare and publish those words for all of the world to read. Yet America still stands, its own nation.

That accomplishment has come with overwhelming support of thousands of veterans, who have sacrificed their lives and put themselves at risk to guard our freedoms and keep us safe. It continues with their help today, and with the help of their families, who support them, and the help of our law enforcement officials, who risk their lives every day.

July 4 became a federal holiday in 1941, and Americans have been celebrating it as a birth of America’s independence since that time with fireworks, festivals and parades. With all of that fun, it’s easy to overlook what makes this holiday so important and so special in the first place. We hope you take the time this week to remember the history of it. 

This year, we hope you take the time to reflect on the founding of this country. Educate your kids about it. 

Teach them how democracy came to this land they love and tell them why it matters.

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